Even villains need a hero.
Gerard lost his birthright in his small island kingdom when he married the court minstrel. He fled to the only place that offered protection from his father and his vengeful local deity - the service of the High Priestess.
Unfortunately, his superior officer, Silveo, takes an instant disliking to Gerard. Silveo has a reputation for cruelty, cunning, and a biting wit. He's a minority species, and rumors claim that he was once an assassin, who clawed his way to power from a childhood of poverty and abuse.
In spite of their differences, the Priestess insists that Gerard and Silveo cooperate to destroy the charismatic pirate, Gwain, and his mysterious organization, the Guild of the Cowry Catchers. Gwain has been killing off the Temple Police for years, and he seems likely to make a swift end of Gerard...if Silveo doesn't do it first.
This download includes the entire 5-book series. Warning: This story includes sexual scenes and situations.
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The Guild of the Cowry Catchers was the first audio book I ever listened to when it was in podcast form, and Abigail Hilton spoiled me rotten with the amazing production values this book had. Full cast audio, haunting (and sometimes hilarious) music, and full sound effects make this the finest production I've ever heard.
The remaster on some of the lines in the early books corrects any flaws in the initial podcast recording. Understand that this started out as an 'indy' podcast, and Abigail Hilton put out a product for free that I feel was far superior to the vast majority of 'professional' recordings. The Audible.com production is fully remastered, and is well worth the cost of admission based solely on that. Let me reiterate that this is the best production I've ever heard, and you will ask yourself going forward why every audio book isn't fully voiced with music and sound effects.
This book in 'paper' form (started as an exclusive e-book) made me purchase everything Hilton ever writes, this audio book production got me into audio books.
There are a whole bunch of scenes in this series which continue to strike me whenever I hear them, but the character of Silvio Lamire makes the statement in the 2nd book how he intends to "Walk in over sand, and walk out over bodies," concerning an island believed to harbor in individual the main characters are hunting. I won't spoil anything, but the realization of what that statement means is utterly chilling.
Go ahead and use any extra credits or cash to buy 'The Prophet of Panamindorah' and 'Secret Things' from Audible. 'Prophet' is set in the same universe as 'Cowry Catchers' just a different location, time period, and tone of the story. It's also got the music and sound effects, but is narrated solely by Abigail Hilton. 'Secret Things' is a collection of shorts which are prequels of the 'Cowry Catchers" main characters; half are full cast while the other half are narrated by Abigail Hilton.
In the 4th book Gerard is taken to a gambling den with his allies to deal with a local crime boss. After breathing in some 'questionable' drug-laden censer smoke he's taken outside for some fresh air. There he confides in an ally the feelings he has towards the man he has come to love (yes, you heard that right). In a moment of unintentional inebriation the normally stoic exterior of Gerard Holovar is ripped open for the reader to catch a glimpse of the depths of emotion he tends to keep bottled up through most of the story. This character is dragged through the emotional wringer over the course of this book in ways that most authors are utterly incapable of portraying. This scene in particular would be moving enough with just the vocal performance, but the musical selection accompanying it made the scene downright haunting as we watch a particularly strong character succumb to a moment of emotional weakness.
I must give a warning for everybody, there is a homosexual subplot in this novel in which two central male characters fall in love with each other. You WILL get hooked by this book before the subplot becomes apparent, and you will not be capable of putting it down once it does. Please don't be alarmed by this; the plotline, world building, and character progression are top notch, and you will understand what draws these two particular characters together as you experience this series of novels.
Warning #2, some people would consider the 5th book as sexually explicit in some parts. I personally don't think it's too bad, but tastes vary. Much like George RR Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series, this book series is not meant for children. Even without the sexually explicit content in the 5th book, the entire series is violent, dark, gory, and oh so entertaining in all the ways we tried to hide from our parents when we were teenagers.
I don't often say this, but this is one of the best things I've ever read in the past 20+ years of reading sci-fi and fantasy. If you believe certain aspects of this book seem 'icky' then I implore you to give it a chance. Welcome, by the way, to the ever growing army of slightly rabid Abigail Hilton fans.
Not a great read... but worth the effort.
Some of the key characters were complex and flawed. Looking into those issues added depth to the story. There is a homosexual plotline in the book, but other than the excessive inclusion of the physical/explicit components of the relationship I appreciated the authors subcontext of love being love regardless of the gender of those in the relationship.
I also enjoyed the light but well planned/timed use of humor, and the use of background music worked most of the time (with only a few missteps). The ensemble cast recording worked very well in general and added to the story... the only complaint was minor and that the narrators voice was thin and not as clear/easy to hear as the cast (especially noticeable when using headphones).
I'm not a big fan of explicit sexuality in novels... a few brief scenes I can deal with but I hate to see it taking up large parts of a story. Having sex is fun... reading about sex is dull and I've never read an author who could put enough lipstick on the literary pig to make it entertaining. In my opinion about 80% of the sex could have been cut out of this series and the net result would have been a dramatic improvement in the quality of the work.
- D. Kuhn